As I type, Tom is in mid-flight, winging his way to lovely Newark NJ courtesy of Virgin-Atlantic. We have had a lovely time, and so I'm going to do two quick posts - one for England, one for France - chronically our adventures. For a more acerbic, slightly off-colour edition (and with 50% fewer "u's", go here.)
Each day I'd work, and then in the evening we would dine well and talk smart.
Tuesday: Tom spent the day in the City. He wanted to get a new European wardrobe whilst in the UK, so he went to Selfridges looking for a personal shopper. They claimed they were all booked up for the week, but Tommy suspects that they were pulling a Pretty Woman on him. (If only I'd been available to force them to help him, we could have had an elegant dinner and jetted to Dublin for some penny flute music that would make him cry. But I digress.) I grabbed a train around 5, and met Tom outside the Goodge Street station for a quick walk to his friend Babette's flat. Tom lived with Babette's family when he studied in France in high school, and had reconnected with her via email to arrange a meeting. Babette and her partner, Nat, have a fabulous little walk up flat in the heart of the city that sent me into conniptions of jealousy. We chatted over crisp German wine and tzatziki and olives, and then headed out to a Greek restaurant around the corner. Lovely evening. Home a bit late, but it was a short week at work, so who's counting?
Wednesday: Tom went into the city again, and I have no idea what he actually did. None. Seriously. Oh WAIT. He went to the Tower of London and almost got in a brawl with a family of German tourists while waiting for the Crown Jewels conveyor belt. Seems they were talking to each other and it upset him, or something like that. He came home around 7pm, and I made us a delicious tapas dinner, if I do say so myself. Grabbed some manchego, chorizo, serrano and olives, a bit of hummus with carrots, heated up a little dish of pre-done tapas potatoes from Waitrose (in with chorizo and onion in that not tomatoey red tapas sauce...even came in their own little brown clay dish), and made Gambas Pil Pil. Timmy, KC, this is how you do it:
Dice a red chili with seeds included, and about five cloves of garlic. Heat a pan, add about half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, then toss in the chili and garlic. (I added some dried Aleppo Pepper, but this is not a necessary item...it just added a little smokey peppery flavour into the mix.) Stir a bit, and fry for about two minutes...don't let it burn, though. Then you add the peeled/deveined prawns, and stir/fry until they're pink and done. (Stir/fry does NOT equal stirfry, FYI. There is a giant pool of oil in the pan.) Take off the heat, squeeze in half a lemon and add a bit of freshly chopped up parsley. Put it all in a dish, serve with delicious bread to sop up all that delicious oil.
OH! And we had flan for dessert with strawberries.
Thursday: Tom slept in and did laundry. I picked him up at 5 and we took a train into the city to meet my friend Patricia for drinks. We went to Refuel, a great little cocktail bar in the Soho Hotel. I like it because it has a vast cocktail menu and all things considered, it's pretty affordable, as well. I mean, in London, £11 for a martini is nothing, really. WELL. Tom disagrees. I gave a £20 for our first round, and when the tab came to £23 he had a fit. Tom refused to obey the cardinal rule of visiting London - stop with the converting everything to dollars and then complaining because it's twice as much as you'd pay in the states and only convert to keep track of your credit card limit....you're just not going to FIND it for what you'd pay in the states. Tom forbade us from ordering another round (which also violates the cardinal rule of round-buying, what since I paid for the first one, but he doesn't live here so he didn't know any better.) He was right, I guess, what since I was bitching about how broke I was and had no business spending more money than necessary. Patricia brought along a foxy young co-worker. He had a fabulous Black Country accent and was good fun to hang out with. We had a great time, and stopped in Chinatown for a passable (if not sublime) dinner before heading our separate ways.
Friday: Up mid-morning, packed for the weekend, and headed out to catch a train. Stopped at Halford's for these goofy little spots you're supposed to put on your headlights when you drive in Europe with a UK car (something about blinding oncoming traffic.) Realised I'd forgotten my passport (since I never need it if I'm not flying) and went back to pick it up. Stopped for a car wash and petrol (Tom could not abide my untidy car, especially when he was seeing friends), and we couldn't get the car wash to work because I was entering the wrong code. I didn't know this, though, and I had a stressed out meltdown and then Tom yelled at me because I was being unreasonable. (I maintain that I had all the hallmarks of unreasonable excitability that day, and he should have expected it.)
Drove to Watford, caught a train to the city, grabbed the tube to Kensington, and went to the Orangery to meet Dale and John. This is my first meeting with a blogger I'd never met before, and it was very weird. I don't hug strangers, but it seemed right to hug Dale upon meeting him. He and John are lovely, by the way. Absolutely delightful. We had much fun over cucumber sandwiches and earl grey, and then took a little walk through the park. Tom and John were almost attacked by a crazy squirrel with a giant bald bump on it's head while stopping for a cigarette (that'll teach you to smoke). Dale and I spied a fantastic mullet, the kind that makes you stop in your tracks and say, "Seriously, dude, look in the mirror!" We demonstrated our synchronicity by making simultaneous snide remarks about this poor fashion victim. Bless him, I think he thought he was hot. Shared a pint at a pub, and then Tom and I headed to Euston to catch a train to Watford so we could make our midnight ferry to France.